Leadership is not a position, but rather a way of being. Whether you are in charge or not, you lead by example. You can be an effective leader even if you are not the boss. Leadership is about influencing others and inspiring them to be good leaders themselves.
So what does that mean? It means that leadership isn’t just for those who are at the top of the organization chart–leadership positions are for everyone. Here are some ways you can lead without being in charge.
Counteract the Opinion that Only Those in Leadership Positions are Leaders. One way to be a leader is by simply not accepting the idea that only those in leadership positions can be leaders.
If you’re not in a management position, don’t think of yourself as any less of a leader. Leaders are everywhere and we all have the potential to lead. As an individual contributor who isn’t in charge, you may be leading your team as they execute their daily tasks. If your team doesn’t know how to do something, you step up and show them how it’s done or find someone who can so that everyone can get back to work. You might also be leading by example with respect to company values and policies and by advocating for improvement efforts within your area of expertise.
I had an opportunity to be part of a group game at an event I recently attended.
In the game we had to choose a caption. You could nominate yourself or someone else. I noticed that I didn’t even consider leading. It made me think for a moment that this was a common pattern in my life. I’d always let others lead. In this game my understanding of leadership shifted. While I did not choose to be the team captain I still displayed leadership qualities throughout the challenge. I kept the team on course by reminding them of what needed to be focused on in order to win. I carried out leadership qualities and presence throughout the event even though that wasn’t my designated role. I thought about other times in my life when I missed opportunities to be present because I minimized the position of playing an active role even if you are not required to lead the mission.
Leadership is about influencing others and inspiring them to be good leaders themselves.
Be an Effective Leader Even if you are not in Charge
You can be an effective leader even if you are not in charge. Leadership is about influencing others and inspiring them to be good leaders themselves. So what does that mean? It means that leadership isn’t just for those who are at the top of the organization chart–leadership positions are for everyone.
Here are some ways you can lead without being in charge:
- Lead by example: Be a good citizen and model behaviors for your team to follow.
- Be a mentor: Help your team reach their goals and help them grow and develop professionally and personally.
- Help build relationships: Keep company with people who have something to offer–connect with experts, vendors, customers, friends, and colleagues.
- Hone your skills: Expand your expertise by learning from experts or taking courses–develop your strengths and become better than anyone else at what you do best.
In the game I participated in I led others by my enthusiasm and attentiveness to the goal. I mentored by cheering and encouraging the teammates that I played the group game with and this kept the morale levels high. These were effective ways to display leadership qualities in a non-leadership role.
Lead by Example
Being a leader is about more than telling people what to do–it’s about leading by example. You set the tone for your team and establish its standards. Being a leader means that you are committed to doing the right thing, even when it’s not easy. And it’s not just difficult tasks that make a good leader, difficult conversations can be important too.
Leadership starts with honesty and hard conversations. You have to be willing to say what needs to be said and know when someone else needs to hear it too. It’s a responsibility you should take seriously because the team will follow your lead. I would not have had much influence in the group game if I sat in the chair to oversee things and criticized the team when our goals weren’t met.
The Importance of Motivating Others.
Leadership is all about motivating others. Everyone can lead as long as they share their ideas and inspire those around them. Leadership is personal. It’s about getting people to follow your vision and work with you.
Use your unique skills and personality to the best of your ability with those around you. This can be accomplished by finding out what motivates each individual and then, using that knowledge to motivate them to do their best work.
We’re all motivated differently: Some like public recognition, while others prefer monetary rewards or the opportunity for growth. Once you figure out what motivates someone, it will be easier for you to get them engaged in your projects or company culture with less stress on both sides.
So remember, you can be a leader simply by your presence in whatever position you find yourself in.
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